Specific and Nonspecific Low Back Pain

Low back pain is complex in nature and therefore is sub divided into specific and non-specific low back pain. 

Specific low back pain

Specific low back pain is associated with “red flags” (degenerative conditions, inflammation, infection etc..) as these red flags are highly correlated to the causative aspects of low back pain. However, specific low back pain is reported to make up less than 10% of all low back pain cases. 


Non-specific low back pain, on the other hand, makes up 90% of all low back pain cases and is generally reported with no known underlying cause. This embarks the constant challenge with treating non-specific low back pain. 

With non-specific low back pain, there are reported “yellow flags” which are risk factors of developing long-term non-specific low back pain and may also highlight psychosocial barriers.

Treating non-specific low back pain is also complex with 75% of low back pain suffers remain in pain 12 months later (chronic) and 78% of low back pain sufferers report a relapse, resulting in further time absent from work and a reduction in physical and social activity (Hestbaek, Leboeuf-Yde, & Manniche, 2003).